June 24, 2014

Centre rushes to buy new submarine batteries as Navy suffers shortage

The government has woken up to the harsh reality of military equipment shortages, and has duly set the ball rolling to replenish the Navy's diminishing submarine battery reserves.
The shortage of submarine batteries hit the nation hard in February, when a fire on board INS Sindhuratna led to the death of two officers.
Though the fire was caused by faulty cables, the accident brought into focus the critical shortage of submarine batteries.
The new government, eager to speed up the procurement of batteries, has invited bids from manufacturers.
The Navy intends to buy seven sets of type-I batteries - comprising 1,736 batteries - for Russian-made Kilo-class submarines.
Another two sets of type-II batteries are being ordered for the German-made Shishumar-class submarines. The two sets will have 1,080 batteries.
Sources said the purchases are meant to replenish reserves and overcome the shortage. The procurement of submarine batteries was hit hard by red tape as the Defence Ministry had stopped purchases from a particular vendor.
The issue remained embroiled in bureaucratic cobwebs and litigation between competing companies, resulting in a shortage of batteries for the navy.

With the new government putting major emphasis on defence modernisation, the purchase of batteries is expected to be smooth.

Two major submarine accidents within a span of six months have rattled the Navy. The incidents not only caused the death of Navy personnel, but also rendered two operational Kilo-class submarines out of service and severely impacted force levels.
INS Sindhurakshak, a Kilo-class submarine which sank after explosions killed 19 personnel on board in August last year, is in the process of being retrieved, while INS Sindhuratna needs new cables to become operational once again.
The fire on board Sindhuratna in February also resulted in several sailors being hospitalised during sea trials.
Sources said new cables are being procured as all efforts are being made to make the submarine operational again.
The revival of the two vessels is crucial as the navy is critically short of submarines.
The new line of French Scorpene submarines is not expected to be delivered before early 2016, the fresh deadline fixed for the much delayed project. 


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